Fog City: a short movie I am helping get made (with your help?)

Fog City

I myself did not become alive, until I discovered my invisibility.” That was the quote from Liam Edward Brady that grabbed my attention. It hit the nail on the head for me. I was at the time in a process of self discovery, trying to understand who I was, coming to terms with turning 40. (I am still on that journey and almost 41 yikes!)

Fog City is an inspired short movie from Director Liam Brady.

The plot: “An amateur ballplayer makes a strange discovery on the beach and spends his otherwise ordinary day navigating a distressing moral gray area.”

Through the movie we follow Jimmy Darcy and how his experiences influence his perspective.

This project came to my attention through Liz O’Neal, a colleague and friend. She announced she was producing the movie. An awesome opportunity for such a bright incisive and intelligent lady. So I figured I’d throw some money at it through Seeds & Sparks, which is being used as a site that helps Independent Movies raise funds to get made. Its a community driven service. I didn’t have that much to throw at it but did what I could.

But the more I read about the movie and talked to Liz about it, the more I wanted to see the movie get made. I wanted to contribute more than money. So now I am acting as an Advisory Project Manager for Fog City. I am assisting in Project Managing by advising on best practices for planning, resources management, budgetary controls. I’m the guy with the Gant Chart. Its’ the boring part, but I am good at it and it helps get the movie made.

What drew me in too was the huge Irish American connection to this movie. The director  Liam, has an Irish passport, Liz is a Irish American and even the lead character has an Irish American background. The United Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco is lending huge support behind the movie.

Now as late as I am to the party I am going to try and get this movie to have its International Premier, in Cork. 

But in order for that to happen the movie has to be made. We have just less than six days left to raise $32,480.

We’re 45% there having raised $15,078.

But we really need help. I would love to see funding come from individuals in Ireland who would like to see this movie made. I appreciate times are extremely tough out there. But for those who can spare $10 or more as a donation or loan ( Seeds and Spark is a pretty flexible way of raising funds) it would be greatly received. Plus you can get anything from a postcard from the set to being named an Associate Producer, depending on ho much you donate or loan.

I do hope we can see funding come from the Irish Community. This is a great movie that has to be made in my view. And if you do help us hit our target on time I promise I will move heaven and earth to have the film have an international premier in Cork .  That would be an awesome culmination of a community based short film. And I am sure Liam, Liz, cast and crew would love the excuse to visit their ancestral home.  Plus I sincerely believe the subject matter will hit home and resonate with a lot of people in Ireland (and around the World) . if you feel as I do please contribute. And thank you for reading this post.

Project Management after the fact: Lessons I have learned

I have recently been addressing an issue of transition I have had with one of my  projects at EMC. I believe this issue affects a lot of people in the tech industry who find themselves entering Project Managment. When do you & your organization turn your project over to operations ?

Lets get some definition of a project for clarity.

A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken, to create a unique product or service”.

So it says on page 14 of my Project Management manual.

It goes on to say:

  • Temporary implies a definite beginning and end. “
  • “Unique implies different from previous work”

So I undertook formal Project Management Certification training in late October of 2012, as we had started to execute on EMC Elect and well after we had established EMC Ask the Expert as a going concern.

And was my head reeling after learning the PMI process in its correct form?

It was.

Did I feel like a bad Project Manager?

Yes.

Did I feel incompetent?

No.  I realized that while I had not followed the  PMI Institutes process to the letter I had still effectively managed the Project to a success.  Particularly as EMC Ask the Expert had ceased to be a project and was now an operational process. I had used common sense, EMC best practices and processes, and had manged the project successfully. But not without pitfalls.

You see I believe I hit the problem most Program Managers have in corporations around the world. Intending to turn your project over to operations but not fully planning it? As in, when exactly that happens or how you manage it? How do you manage turning a project into an operation or part of operations? Especially when you are in an environment where execution is taking place and rather rapidly and continuously across your organization at a fast and sometimes frenetic pace?

Lets look again at what the my manual says about “Projects Vs Operations”

Projects

  • Unique and Temporary
  • Have their own charter, goal and team
  • Driver of Change
  • Delivers a unique product or service
  • Heterogeneous team mix
  • Focus on effectiveness

Operations

  • Repetitive / Ongoing
  • Semi-permanent charter, goal and team
  • Manage “status quo”
  • Delivers Repeat product or service
  • Homogeneous team mix
  • Focus on efficiency”

It’s clear with time and a clear head plus training to see the distinct differences. But really it all can be avoided with planning (and training). Planning is the most important of all Project Management processes. But it seems to be something that suffers the most. Most of us if not all of us know planning is important. But in an execution mind set it can falter. You are working rapidly to bring something to life that will address a unique need. You want it to a be a long living operational piece. But did you set that out as part of your planning?

Planning is obviously where I fell down. Now I am not saying I had no planning. Of course I did. But I never documented in the plan about moving my project to operations. .  It was an assumption without including that in a formal plan in nothing other than a line to say that it would be integrated into eServices Support Community operations.

if 90% of a project Managers time is in communication, it is important to have a complete plan to communicate.

Having realized this following my training ( PMI Institute recognized training, provided by Velopi Ltd through EMC’s education program) I had to address this.

EMC Ask the Expert was an operational process. Furthermore there was another project underway for EMC Ask the Expert , which was a phase II execution. (integrating EMC Ask the Expert into newly launched products and services)  Once I saw the disconnect I had a hard task before me. The project team, was now the managing team for Ask the Expert Operations and Ask the Expert Phase II project and Part of the EMC Elect Project Team.

This caused contention for resources. Not a thing you need to invent for yourself. Hind sight is 20/20 vision. And once you identify a fault you have to address it.

We are in the process of doing so now.

While keeping Ask the Expert operations running, managing the phase II Ask the Expert Project, and Managing the EMC Elect Project,  both Stephanie McBride and I have documented the operational piece of Ask the expert. We also utilized a work break down structure and work packages to communicate with relevant business units,  on how they will integrate Ask the expert Operations into their business operations. We are communicating this out now and integrating it into operations.

This is in all honesty is work we could have done earlier in the project. It actually is now an additional mini project. It is worth the effort to do this however and if you are in this predicament I urge you to look at your project. Is it in fact an operations module now?  What planning have you done to integrate this operations piece to your current operations process? How do you avoid becoming the operations manager? Or have you planned to do that?

These are vital questions to ask, to plan for and to communicate with your stakeholders. It is worth it and in the end you will be a better Project Manager for it.  Your business unit will be more streamlined and robust for it .

I know I am the better for the experience. I also know there is so much more to learn and that no one and can rest on their laurels.

I would hope this helps others in their forays in Project Management. Do let me know your thoughts and feel free to share your stories around the subject. Does your organization suffer with transitioning from Project to Operations?

How do you mitigate and manage the transition?